IPSWICH — No one was hurt in a fire at a house on Turnpike Road Thursday morning.

Initial reports came in around 11 a.m. of a fire at a two-apartment building at 72 Turnpike Road (Route 1).

Smoke was reported to be visible in the roof of the house, which was described as a two-story wood frame structure containing a first- and a second-floor apartment.

A few minutes later, scanner reports indicated the fire was knocked down and crews were checking for the spread of flames in the building.

Ipswich Deputy Chief Jeffrey French said the fire was caused by an apparent short-circuit in a combination fan-heating unit above the second-floor bathroom ceiling.

The blaze, which began as a ceiling fire, went unnoticed for some minutes, allowing it to ignite several 2-by-6 inch pieces of wood which then fell into the bathroom below.

Quick action of the firefighters, working from below, extinguished the flames between the second floor ceiling and the roof before more serious damage was caused.

It was that prompt effort, said French, that saved the firefighters from having to cut a hole in the roof. Had that been necessary, he said, it likely would have resulted in significantly more interior damage. He had high praise not only for his Ipswich firefighters, but for the crews from Rowley, Essex and Topsfield as well, noting that, working together, they did a remarkable job of knocking down the fire and preserving the building.

Additionally, French offered high praise for the services Rehab 5 provides for firefighters on the job. “I can’t stress enough how valuable Rehab 5 is,” he said.

Although the fire was contained to the second floor bathroom and the attic area above, there was considerable smoke and water damage to the interior, said French. Plus, he added, the electrical service had to be cut, so the house is uninhabitable for now, and will remain so until repairs and cleanup are made.

Of the five people believed to live in the house, the couple who lived in the first floor apartment were out, as were John Howland, his wife and young daughter, who lived in the second-floor apartment. Howland said he works nights, and his wife was at one of the two appointments she had that morning, when the fire started.

“I was just getting in the car when the landlord called me,” Howland said. He does not know who spotted the fire.

“Someone saw the smoke or something and immediately...they were able to get a hold of the Fire Department and get them down here fast. So they were able to contain and control it and get it done,” Howland said.

“They are my main concern,” he said of his family. “I don’t care what’s in there.”

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2534, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews. Find us at 300 Rosewood Drive, Suite 107, Danvers, Mass.

Recommended for you